Local political campaigns often have a limited advertising budget. Every dollar counts. With the shifting media landscape, the reach and influence of expensive television advertising is in decline. Fortunately, there are cost-effective ways for connecting with voters online.
Digital is now firmly a part of any politician’s media plan. Online advertising extends and complements the reach of television and radio. Here are several popular ways to reach voters and constituents.
Social Media Ads
Social Media advertising works well because you can target your specific audiences. For example, Facebook’s targeting options include age, region, educational background and more. You can even reach voters based on their connections. Tailoring your ads to specific audiences works best.
Note that Facebook and Twitter now have verification processes for political and issue-based advertising. This can take some time to complete, so you will want to start this process long before you plan to run any ads.
Pay Per Click (PPC)
PPC ads are text ads that appear on Google, Bing and other search engines. You bid on specific search keywords or phrases and your ad appears at the top of the search engine results. You only charged when people click on the ad. PPC advertising is also the easiest to track. Google Adwords and Bing Ads are the two largest PPC services.
These are visual ads (banners ads) that appear on third party websites. Most display advertising is bought either on a flat rate or through a Cost Per Thousand (CPM) model. For example, 100,000 ad impressions at a $10 CPM costs $1,000. To calculate the amount paid per impression, divide the CPM by 1,000. For example, a $10 CPM equals $.01 per impression.
Website ads: Local newspaper websites are a good place to run display ads. Their visitors are already engaged in news and likely more interested in political advertising.
IP Targeting: IP Targeting uses individual IP addresses to reach specific voter households. It matches IP addresses to street addresses and then displays your ads on websites they visit across the internet.
Retargeting is as way to display advertisements to people who show an interest in your campaign.
When a user goes to your website, a tracking pixel is set in the user’s browser. After that, the user will see display banners about your campaign on other websites as they surf the web. Retargeting will remind them about your campaign.
You can set this up yourself through Facebook Remarketing and Google Remarketing. You may find it easier to set up remarketing campaigns through a third-party platform such as Adroll.
YouTube largest video website on the web. Most political candidates who use video have a presence on this site. YouTube provides a wide variety of video ad options. You can target specific audiences by interests and keywords. You can also measure results such as views, click through rates, and amount of video time watched.
One popular ad options is the bumper video. This is a video ad is 6 seconds or shorter that plays before, during, or after another video. Viewers do not have the option to skip the ad. The cost is based on the number of ad impressions shown.
Campaign videos can also be posted and promoted through your social media accounts.
We’ve saved one of the most powerful tools for last. For email marketing, you first need to build a list of email addresses. Start collecting addresses early through your campaign website or even from offline events. Always ask or get permission before adding any email addresses. Political spam is just as annoying as the regular kind.
Don’t run your email campaign through a personal email account. Use an email marketing service to send emails. These services include email templates, autoresponders and the ability to automatically add and remove subscribers. They also provide better deliverability for mass mailings.
All online advertising must point somewhere. Your campaign website is where you will drive the bulk of your online traffic. Create specific landing pages for your different ad campaigns. For example, if you are advertising about a specific issue, send visitors to a page about that issue. Unless it’s a generic awareness ad, make the landing pages match your ads.
Old-timers may remember when online exposure was less expensive. At one time, Google search results did not list four ads on top. And most followers on Facebook would actually see your posts without ‘boosting’ them.
How do you reach voters online? Today, political candidates can cut through the online clutter and directly reach anyone. The catch is, you’ll need to pay for that access.
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